The Fish Isn’t Kosher, OU Lawsuit Charges

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The Orthodox Union is suing a Pennsylvania-based seafood-importing company, saying it falsely claimed the OU certified its tilapia fish as kosher, highlighting a common problem in the increasingly global kosher marketplace.

In a suit filed in federal court in Manhattan this month, the Orthodox Union, a Manhattan not-for-profit with a kosher division, sued Western Edge Inc. for trademark infringement and deceptive trade practice, alleging the unauthorized use of its registered certification mark. The suit alleges that Western Edge produced a fraudulent letter when asked by a Brooklyn food company about the kosher status of its tilapia fillets.

But company officials say the letter came from its fish-production plant in China. “To my understanding there may have been a misunderstanding originating from the producing plant in China about what type of kosher certification they had,” said Donald Kelley, procurement manager for Western Edge. “The only actual participation we had was to forward a letter.”

The Orthodox Union files lawsuits on average several times a year. “If there’s an issue for kashrut [Jewish dietary laws] reasons or trademark reasons we have to defend our mark, otherwise we lose it,” said Menachem Genack, rabbinic administrator and chief executive of Orthodox Union’s kosher division.

According to the suit, Western Edge had applied for Orthodox Union certification for tilapia fillets produced in the Hainan Province of China in March 2007, but that application was withdrawn several months later.

“Western Edge’s products are not now and have never been certified as kosher by Orthodox Union,” the suit says.

Tilapia by its nature is kosher because it has both fins and scales. But during production, tilapia, like many other foods, can lose its kosher qualities.

Mr. Kelley of Western Edge said the company was cooperating with OU to achieve a resolution.

“We had no malicious intention of misusing their mark,” said Mr. Kelley. “We’re operating under the auspice of cooperation and trying to resolve this very quickly.”

(Source: WSJ)


6 COMMENTS

  1. 1, and grow your own wheat so you could mill it into flour and make your own bread. own your own cows so you could milk them for milk cheese butter etc. ayn l’dovor sof with your logic.

  2. #3m #1 Do say ‘ourselves’, presumadely including perhaps the entire religious community.
    Really, we arent forced to live in inner-cities or ghettos anymore. It would be nice, if we religious folk, did our own fishing and growing of wheat. Nice if we did our own anything beyond tsitsit and Teffilin.
    It’ll take Mashiach to change that I think though. People are contented to live in heavily polulated crime-holes like NY Chicago LA Miami etc. Not my idea of anywhere Id like to live. The alternative is Erets Yisrael. There are a number of farming towns and extremely quiet places a religious jew can live over here. Not that any one has their thinking cap on, or reads the words of their Sages.

  3. If it were true that it was all a “misunderstanding”, it could have easily ben resolved without going to court as the vast majority of Kashrus Alerts are. Obviously more was going on here.